Changing the Conversation Diabolically

The Green House failed to address the Issues

By Sarr Abdulai Vandi

June 10, 2014

The underling was instructed to change the conversation diabolically, in an arrogant and capricious manner. Jerolinmek PIAH’s silly cut and paste narrative is diversion, diversion, and diversion.

There is danger in half education and mis-education. It clouds your comprehension and distorts your communications and information skills. Harnessing proxies, propagating hate and fear, preying on ignorance, manufacturing rumors and myths, and demonizing opponents and dissidents as traitors to the Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF political tribe and administration are the tactics of the crafty despot with her back against the wall.

I have read the response of the plutocrat and the imperial president’s underling to my article titled, “Reckless and Controversial Public Servant Salary Régime Legalizes Bribery and Normalizes Corruption in Liberia.” I had initially decided not respond to the Executive Mansion’s, or more correctly the deserted and abandoned Green House’s  ill-fitted response, as their response is filled with venom and personal innuendos, deliberately avoiding addressing the merits of the fundamental issues that I raised. 
It is despicable and preposterous that the Green House has now coined a new distinction in Liberia: Old Friends of the Administration, making one to wonder how long the New Friends of the Administration will last, after they figure out the REAL Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF. Such feeble distinctions are highly risible and indecorous of a Presidency.

Ninety (90) percent of the Green House response was spent on boasting and shamefully haranguing about how the President has provided the space for freedom, without acknowledging the emergence and the ubiquitous role of the technological revolution, which has made it nearly impossible for plutocrats, tyrants, and dictators to hinder the free flow of information and communications. We are in a new age and period governed by new roaming and infinite kinds of emerging technologies that have enabled people to communicate and dialogue on public issues without the ability of even the most dictatorial governments to control, choke and repress. 

It would have been a different debate to test if the President was providing the freedom and space, rather than the new and emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs), which leave her with no option to obstruct or retard our fundamental freedoms and basic rights guaranteed in the Republic’s constitution.

There are instances where the President and notable lackeys in the administration and government attempted to use the infidel and unjust court system to shut down and bankrupt media institutions, yet information and communication flow continued unabated, made possible by the Internet and other forms of social media. While FrontPageAfrica Editor was in prison and his printing house shutdown, the electronic and online version of the paper remained active, far away from the clumsy and wicked hands of the Liberia Presidency.

We are in the 21st Century, way beyond the 20th Century, which witnessed the political resurrection and subsequent election of President Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF who remained outside of Liberia, in the Diaspora to cast dispersion and insults on the Governments of Samuel Kanyon DOE, her invention and protégé Charles Ghankay TAYLOR, and earlier President William Richard TOLBERT, her boss and sponsor. Through it all, the woman was maneuvering and clandestinely working her way into the system.

The Green House has failed to provide answers to the substantive questions raised about the $5K, $10K, $15K , $20K and $30K salaries that it is selectively paying a chosen few in a country like Liberia, in which the World Bank’s recent report (April 14, 2014) corroborated that Liberia is the second poorest country in the world. This is a World Bank’s report. It is not a report from Sarr VANDI. After 9 years of being at the helm of power in Liberia, the World Bank declared Liberia as the second poorest country in the world yet the administration is trying out a diatribe against a citizen who questioned the logic of paying some closed netted officials in the crooked and wicked plutocrat’s régime of the ignoramus and the corrupt.

Since Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF and her administration do not have justification for paying ‘incompetents’ such high salaries, it has cherry picked from my thirteen (13) page article to focus on the senior executive service for civil servants (SES) and the transfer of knowledge through expatriate nationals (TOKTEN) programs. Both capacity-building programs are sponsored and underwritten by the European Union (EU), USAID, UNDESA, and other international partners. Notwithstanding, the Green House miserably failed to point to any success that has been made. Below is the cut and paste excerpt from the Green House:

“According to a recent Final Evaluation Report of the Senior Executive Service and the Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals in Liberia, in 2006, the administration inherited a massive brain drain, or “large-scale emigration of skilled people for better opportunities in other countries due primarily to the prolonged civil war”, and risked achieving very little with the cadre of the available workforce.”

Said the Evaluation Report, “The Government ran a huge risk of failure if nothing was done quickly to address this critical challenge… (And) undertook a multipronged capacity initiative, not only to address urgent capacity needs, but to build a cadre of competent professionals who could drive the country development agenda, particular the PRS.” The 2014 Report found and concluded that the SES and TOKTEN programmes “were and still remain highly relevant to Liberia’s post-conflict rebuilding priorities.” It furthered that “The programmes are aligned strategically with and in support of achieving the national development priorities of the country … focused specifically on the much needed capacity building of the Government of Liberia (GOL).”

How did VANDI miss all this? How could he miss the fact that the “SES programme was effective in terms of the recruitment and deployment of 98 SES professionals in 29 MACs for initial period of 3 years.” And similarly, the “TOKTEN programme recruited and fielded one hundred twenty-nine (129) professionals in various capacities within 26 government institutions for a period of 6 to 18 months.” The evaluation concluded, “Together, this was an impressive reach in the provision of mid-level managerial and technical skills to support and build the capacity in the Civil Service at the national and county levels.” The simple answer is that Vandi’s hateful lenses have blurred his vision.

By the way, the report recommends a continuation of the programmes which currently boasts 54 SES assigned in 23 MACs (none of whom earns more than $3,000.00) with stronger Liberian ownership through increased budgetary support.”

The Green House missed the issue. No facts the Green House has presented are in dispute. However, they do not address the vital points I raised. It is true that the Government of Liberia (GoL) has recruited people under the transfer of knowledge through expatriate nationals (TOKTEN) and the (SES) senior executive civil servants service programs, respectively.

Notwithstanding, my position is that the SES and TOKTEN programs have been abused and misused, primarily for the purposes of appeasing and advancing the cronies and friends and family members of inner circle people. That the people recruited are woefully incompetent and unqualified. I challenged the Green House to disclose the names, CVs, pay stubs and other employment verification information to prove that these people and those making $5K, $10K, $15K, $20K, $25K and $30K are qualified for the positions they hold. The Green House clandestinely circumnavigated the core issues and provided unnecessary data and statistics about how many people it has recruited in the programs, which again, was completely beside the point.
Furthermore, the Green House boasts of the continuation of the programs without giving a single success evidence of what has been accomplished, outside of the argument that the international partners want the program to continue because Liberia is still a broken and corrupt system. The Green House indicated that both the SES and TOKTEN programs have been in existence since 2006, meaning at the time the President first assumed office. That was about 9 years ago and there is no noticeable improvement in governance, professional experience, expertise competence and performance, and effective and efficient public administration and management of the Republic.

The President is a lame duck! There is chaos and confusion on the horizon, and things are rapidly falling apart. Individual cabinet members and government officials are openly and at times clandestinely abandoning the decadent régime, and repositioning themselves according to their respective interests and desires.

The economy remains sluggish and deteriorating at a fast pace. There is imminent state failure and state collapse. Madame President herself has indicated that the bus is stucked; meaning the government and the administration is clueless, dysfunctional, and sedentary.

Here are few of the most recent statistics that the Executive Mansion could provide forceful and convincing responses to refute:

  • Liberia is the Second Poorest country in the world, World Bank (April 2014)
  • Liberia is the Third Poorest country in the World, Forbes Magazine (April 2013)
  • Liberia is the Most Corrupt country in the world, Transparency International (August 2013)
  • There is corruption AT ALL LEVELS of the Government of Liberia , US Department of State (April 2014)
  • President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is dropped finally from Forbes Magazine Most Powerful Women (April 2014)
  • Liberia is Worst Performing in Education in Sub-Saharan Africa, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (April 2014)
  • Liberia is Ranked in the Low Human Development category, amongst the worst,  performing at 174 (Human Development Index, 2013)


After all these dismal performances, the Green House had the audacity to boast, suggesting that “from Liberia’s continuation in the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) program of the United States to the Global Corruption Perception Index, and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Report of Good Governance in the African Continent, Liberia continues to make significant progress in the fight against corruption. We will continue to do so.”

The fact remains that Liberia was about to be dropped from the MCC in 2013 and the President of Liberia begged the U.S. Government, on her bent knees for more waivers because it could not meet up with the simple requirements and requisite governance performance indicators. This fact is not disputed.

Furthermore, the Government of Liberia’s continuous engagement and participation in the MCC program stems from pleading for favors and shameless begging, not from solid performance, just as she indecorously begged her way out of the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) program.

Moreover, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation report was a measurement from 2003 to 2013, covering the ten years period. That indicator included the régimes of Charles TAYLOR, Chairman BRYANT and Ellen SIRLEAF. Nevertheless, it was measurement from a wartime economy (baseline) to intérim, to post election period. This fact also cannot be disputed.
Concerning the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Index, is Ellen Johnson SIRLEAF prepared to share any glory with the imprisoned Darpkannah – Charles Ghankay TAYLOR, and the late NTGL Chairman Charles Gyude BRYANT, her compatriots and predecessors, who she demonized, vilified, sent to jail, and the other later to his grave?

The Transparency International’s (TI) Global Perception Index ranked Liberia the “most corrupt in the world in recent time,” with USA Today and all major US newspapers and [other] media organs and networks carrying it as banner headline. These are not personal venom and innuendos. These are facts.

Third, the Government boasts, “the 2014 Report found and concluded that the SES and TOKTEN programmes ‘were and still remain highly relevant to Liberia’s post-conflict rebuilding priorities… By the way, the report recommends a continuation of the programmes’.”

It is a national disgrace for the Government of Liberia and this lame duck and serpentine administration to boast that the two internationally generated and goodwill programs are being continued after nearly 9 years of being in operations without noticeable and tangible success. It simply means that the Government has not utilized the programs to achieve clear and manifest improvements in public sector governance, and so, there is still a need to continue the program. This is like boasting that after taking cancer treatment for 9 years and after the doctors examination the doctor informs you that you still need to continue treatment because you are not still well, even after millions spent on you to cure your disease.

In 2006, President Sirleaf claimed that in 10 years Liberia would not be dependent on donor largesse. In 2014, the President and the Green House are boasting continued donor financing of a major human capital project in Liberia.

Instead of the Mansion, responding to the USAID Report indicted the Government on fraudulent civil service payroll and other malpractices in government; the Government is shooting the messenger and providing generalized excuses. This is the main trust of the Mansion’s response:

“Had a more objective mind – many have steadfastly argued that objectivity is the bedrock of true intellectualism – concerned itself with true intellectualism, it would have also discovered the numerous efforts being applied across the various agencies of the government to reform the civil service. Unlike VANDI, such minds would have found that the GoL, led by the Civil Service Agency, and working with development partners, is ensuring coordination and oversight of activities aimed at rationalizing public sector employment and compensation as well as wage bill sustainability, in order to deliver on the government’s reform agenda.

President Sirleaf has been reforming the civil service since 2006. She downsized poor Liberians and replaced them with families and friends from abroad. And here she goes again, “such minds would have found that the GoL, led by the Civil Service Agency, and working with development partners ensuring coordination and oversight of activities aimed at rationalizing public sector employment and compensation as well as wage bill sustainability, in order to deliver on the government’s reform agenda.

This is coming from a President [who] said Liberia will not be donor dependent in 10 years and after nearly 9 years as President, her administration is more donor dependent than it was in 2006 when she made the promised that Liberia would be a donor free country. The post conflict nation under the celebrated first African female leader and chief of state has become a perpetual and humiliating beggary. Her snobbish rule has been through sheer political terror, divide, conquer and rule, the arrogance of power, and abuse of authority.

A compatriot activist and radio commentator Henry COSTA, accurately and properly sums up the Republic’s state of affairs as of May 2014 in a recent social media and face book posting.  After 8 years under her leadership, 53 % of us are finding it extremely difficult to survive by living on less than 2 dollars a day. A great many of our babies die before they reach age 5, while many of our wives, sisters and mothers die in childbirth. Liberia is ranked by the World Bank; Ellen’s own friend, as the second poorest country in the whole world, and our life expectancy is at 57 years. There are no jobs to absolve tens of thousands of our largely youthful population, even though there is supposedly 17 billion dollars’ worth of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the country.

A recent Global Witness report reveals that out 68 concession agreements passed by the national legislature and endorsed by the executive, only two met with best industry practices and acceptable international standards. The majority 66 were questionable and suspicious. And the looting continuous with the rich Wologisi mountain in upper Lofa County in a tug of war between the Jindal Group in India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). At the center are the hustlers of the Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF clan and the intransigent citizens of Lofa County. 

The tragedy of the Liberian civil war has resulted into mass destruction of lives and properties, extreme forms of torture, rampant human rights violations and starvation especially in combat zones. In Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF’s Liberia, old wounds have been reopened and many new ones have emerged. Today, the nation is bitterly wounded and divided, and the culprit was yesterday’s treacherous champion, and present nightmare who poses an Existential Threat to the Republic.

Establishment of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA)
Let me set the record straight, I was recruited, paid, and seconded to the Government of Liberia by initially the UN, the ITU and later the World Bank, to initiate the telecommunications and information communications and technology for development (ICT4D) reforms, and to establish the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA). I built the LTA on international standards only to be broken down and reduced to mediocrity after my unceremonious departure. Reference U.S. Ambassador Donald BOOTH’s cable published via WikiLeaks, and World Bank Country Director Luigi GIOVINE and Chairman Gyude BRYANT characterized me as competent, capable, and a man of good character who build the LTA.

Liberians and the public can also reference the General Auditing Commission reports (2006-2010, 2010-2013) on the LTA during and after my administration. My record is clean as light of day. I left the LTA in 2007, over policy disagreement between the Madame and me. Of the competence, the performance and controversy surrounding the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), since my unceremonial departure, the rest is history, and the Liberian public and the collaborating international partners in the telecommunications and ICTs sector have been keen observers and witnesses.

The Fiasco and Reckless Salary Régime at the LTA
At no time did I set salary scale at the LTA. I was paid by the World Bank a monthly salary of $3,500, compared with the $15K to $22K per month being paid to my successors. I challenge the Green House to produce any piece of evidence to indicate that I prepared, signed and submitted for approval a salary scale of the LTA, which will require the President’s approval as per law.

Three years after I had left the LTA, in 2010, President Ellen SIRLEAF wrote LTA Chairman Albert BROPLEH and said to him, “you are spending excessively in a budget not approved by me.” The President demanded and received the resignation of all LTA Commissioners in 2010 after her letter was leaked to the public. Quite recently in 2013, the President again wrote the current LTA of spending excessively in a budget not approved by her. The Act creating the LTA stipulates that the President shall approve LTA’s annual budget but this President has failed to do so, and in essence reneging on her legal obligations to the Liberian people. Therefore, what we have is a running away Government, managing itself and paying itself $5K, $10K, $15K, $20K, $25K and $30K per month salaries.

The radio commentator Henry COSTA also warned and lamented that, Ellen and her goons are busy giving away our country’s natural resources for cheap. They are bathing in extravagance with our tax dollars. You see them in their luxury SUVs and constant globetrotting habits, which deprive us of the badly needed decent schools, hospitals, safe drinking water, electricity, and other social services to which we are entitled as citizens of a country in the 21st century. I am firmly of the conviction that our beloved motherland will see very little improvement from this terrible state in her final years in office.

A Caricature of the International Community: Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF
It has been said, “A dangerous narrative and precedent was created and set with the presidency of Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF Africa’s first elected female leader, and I agree. Many have also suggested that the world is uncomfortable with black African men in power. In addition, that the stereotype of a corrupt incompetent African leader is the reason many want to see African females head of states.

The ‘Iron Lady’ branding was a myth by the international community because of the new and powerful emerging political gender equity, and comprehensive support in the United States and European Union feminist movements. Her critics have correctly observe “her endorsement of Hilary Rodham CLINTON over Senator Barack OBAMA in the 2006 National Democratic Party (DNP) primary convention was gender driven, and most of her speeches on the world stage are colored and laced with divisive anti-male rhetoric.”

The US secretary of state Hilary Rodham CLINTON was to impose Madam JOHNSON-SIRLEAF on the people of the Republic of Liberia in 2011, in a bid to reciprocate Madam JOHNSON-SIRLEAF’s gesture in 2006.

Furthermore, the international community continues to consecrate her with fake and unwarranted accolades like the Nobel Peace Prize (2011), Harvard deficient certificates, and several sovereign nation-state honors and recognitions.

Breach of Trust and the Erosion of Confidence: A Nation in Turmoil
Predictable environment creates a social contract, a sense of security and a sense of confidence. Conflicts and distrust normally evolve when such a contract is undermined or breached. The level of support for public programs and respect for public ordinances can be influenced by how a government establishes and maintains social contract in the society. The primary obligation under such a social contract is the obligation of government to render an account for a responsibility that it has been conferred. Put simply, it means that those individuals and organizations charged with the performance of particular actions or activities are held responsible. The responsibility is judged or measured against clearly articulated terms of reference or perceived codes of conduct.

Accountability and transparency strengthen the legitimacy of government, public officials and their respective policies and decisions. The empowerment by the public to assess the conduct of their public officials confers upon them legitimacy as stakeholders and owners of their government. Ethics and the moral fabric of the country influence accountability and transparency.

Intolerance for public debate and dialogue, lack of information, misinformation or disinformation, and avoidance of public scrutiny, lead to corruption; thus, it is essential that the conceptual framework that forms the foundation of Liberia’s post-war reconstruction and governance be forged as an integrated approach to post-conflict democracy and peace consolidation. The ingredients would include a collaborative and coordinated effort between the public sector, the private corporate partnership, civil society and other stakeholders.

Such a tripartite relationship must exist in cordiality, equilibrium, consultation and mutual interest but these are nowhere to be found in the Unity Party (UP) government of President Ellen JOHNSON-SIRLEAF.


Kala GENESIS, Face Book Social Media Posting, 08 June 2014
Henry COSTA, Face Book Social Media Posting, 06 June 2014


Sarr Vandi
Sarr Abdulai Vandi

The Author
Sarr Abdulai VANDI is University Professor of International Affairs, ITU senior expert, and IBB professor and director emeritus (2000-2010). He initiated the ongoing Liberia telecommunications and ICTs/ICT4D reform process (1999-2004), which culminated into the establishment of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA). He was first chairman and chief executive of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) 2004-2007. He is former Howard University assistant professor, School of Communications (1977-1981), and senior fellow, African Studies and Research Centre (1994-1998), and Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, RL. He was briefly Provost and VPAA, Grand Bassa Community College (GBCC) 2010-2011. Dr. VANDI is principal co-author with the Kenyan academic, Prof. MOHIDDIN of the good governance framework document (UNDESA, 2000), which gave birth to the Good Governance Commission (GC). He is presently in exile in the United States.
All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. To send a rebuttal or contribute an op-ed, please contact